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Monday, August 15, 2022

AMA expects grain harvest to be above prior-year level despite drought

Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA) estimates the harvest for 2022 at around 2.9 million tons. The grain yield is thus in line with the average for the past five years and just surpasses the previous year’s level.

Despite the dry spring this year, the grain on the local fields has proven to be robust and has grown well. Agrarmarkt Austria (AMA) estimates the harvest for 2022 at around 2.9 million tons. The grain yield is thus in line with the average for the past five years and exceeds the previous year’s level of 2.8 million tons. AMA CEO Günter Griesmayr cited the expansion of acreage and higher yields per hectare as reasons for the positive result.

Compared to the previous year, there was an increase in the area under cultivation, particularly for spelt (+24 percent), durum wheat (+19 percent), winter barley (+6 percent) and rye (+4.8 percent). The area under cultivation of soft wheat – the crop with the largest share of the area in Austria – increased by 2.9 percent to 244,501 hectares. “All types of grain that are primarily required in food production have been increasingly cultivated,” Griesmayr said at a press conference on Friday.

The area under summer crops has fallen. There were losses in spring barley, which is primarily used as malting barley (-19 percent) and in oats (-16.7 percent). However, the largest decline was recorded in millet acreage at minus 21 percent. The area under corn has changed only slightly (-1.3 percent).

Trend towards autumn crops continues

This continues a trend that was already discernible in previous years. “There is a shift from spring crops to fall crops,” Griesmayr said. The aim is to make better use of the winter moisture and avoid the summer heat. The yield security is thus increased. The background to this is increasing climate change.

The choice of crops and the distribution of land was partly determined by the effects of the Ukraine war. Due to the skyrocketing prices for fertilizers, local farmers increasingly resorted to soybeans, which are less fertilizer-intensive. After an increase of 22.7 percent, the area under soybean cultivation reached a record level of 17,176 hectares this year.

Organic arable land significantly expanded

The organic arable land has also been expanded again, by 20.4 percent. The organic share of the total grain production this year is 9.3 percent and “remains stable at a very high level,” said Griesmayr.

With regard to the harvest volumes, growth in durum wheat (plus 31 percent), rye (plus 9.7 percent) and soft wheat (plus eight percent) stand out. The barley harvest is less plentiful, which this year – despite increased cultivation of climate-friendly winter barley – is likely to be 4.3 percent below the level of the previous year.

The outlook for the corn harvest is just as less optimistic, with significant losses of 280 tons or 11.7 percent expected due to heat waves and drought. The expected total production of grain amounts to almost five million tons and is thus below both the previous year’s level and the five-year average (around 5.2 million tons each).

Climate change affects many cultures

“Autumn was very dry, which favored cultivation in contrast to the previous year, when the conditions were very wet. On the other hand, there was no precipitation in winter,” said the chairman of the AMA advisory board for grain, Ernst Karpfinger, summarizing the general conditions of this year’s production together. After the drought in spring, however, May brought sufficient rainfall. “The grain just crossed the finish line positively,” said Karpfinger.

The autumn crops are a cause for concern. “July was too hot for that,” and there was too little rainfall. Crops such as corn, soybeans, sunflowers and sugar beets are particularly affected by the heat phenomena. In the case of some crops, one therefore expects “loss of yield and damage”. Overall, however, the year will be good, especially with regard to quality. The grain obtained this year is of high quality and has good kneading and baking properties, reported Karpfinger.

(APA)

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